A chipped anterior tooth can usually be restored through a resin bonding. There are a wide variety of resin shades available on the market. When properly matched against the shade of the natural tooth, the bonding material should be virtually indistinguishable from the natural tooth structure. The process of bonding a tooth is normally painless and does not even require the use of a local anesthetic. Before bonding a chipped tooth, the dentist will initially use a diamond bur to roughen the surface of the natural tooth structure in an area equal to the area where the bonding material will be applied. Following the preparation of the tooth, the dentist applies an etching liquid for about 30 seconds to prepare the tooth for the bonding material before it is rinsed off. After rinsing off the etching liquid, the bonding material in is applied layers and shaped before it is cured with an ultraviolet light.
To create the appearance of a natural tooth, the dentist may apply multiple shades of resin in layers and cure each layer with an ultraviolet light. This has the effect of replicating the translucency that is often present on the incisal edges of adjacent teeth. Dentists may also replicate the appearance of craze lines on adjacent teeth to make the tooth appear more natural. Once a sufficient amount of bonding material is cured on to the chipped tooth, the tooth is subsequently shaped with discs and diamond burs. It is important to take a bite registration with articulation paper after the tooth is shaped. After the patient bites down on the articulation paper, there will be black marks denoting the points of contact between the bonding material and the opposing maxillary or mandibular teeth. Once these are marked, the dentist can use a drill to remove excess bonding material and ensure that the patient’s bite is not adversely affected. The process is finalized by interproximal finishing and subsequently polishing the resin to resemble a natural tooth.
If the remaining natural tooth structure on the chipped tooth is insufficient to support the bonding material, the patient may be advised to get a veneer or crown to restore the tooth. Posterior teeth are often restored with crowns as well. However, most chipped anterior teeth can be successfully restored through a resin bonding. Unlike natural tooth structure, the shade of the bonding material will not change, so it may be necessary to periodically replace the bonding to reflect the changing shade of the patient’s teeth. Patients with dental bonding should refrain from directly biting down on hard foods such as nuts or corn on the cob to minimize the possibility of chipping the bonding material. The bonding materials used to bond teeth are very strong and may last for well over a decade if proper dental hygiene is maintained.